24-hour curfew re-imposed in Orissa district after fresh violence

October 1st, 2008 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 1 (IANS) Day and night curfew was re-imposed in nine towns of Orissa’s Kandhamal district Wednesday following the burning of several houses and the death of a woman in clashes between Christians and Hindus, police said. “We have re-imposed a day and night curfew in nine towns,” Kandhamal Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar told IANS.

A mob set fire to several houses in Behera Gaon village in the district Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, a mob set fire to Christian homes and a church in Rudangia village under Udayagiri police station Tuesday morning. The two sides then clashed using country made guns and other weapons. Police were forced to open fire to disperse the mob. Forty-year-old Rukmini Nayak was killed in the violence and over a dozen people were injured.

About 10 people were arrested by police for their involvement in the violence.

The region has been witnessing communal violence since Aug 23, when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram.

The VHP accused Christians of the murders, a charge strongly denied by Christian organisations.

Since then, thousands of people have been rendered homeless, many churches attacked and at least 33 people killed in the state.

Prohibitory orders are still in force in the district and night curfew was earlier imposed in most towns.

Orissa is not new to communal violence between Hindus and Christians. On Jan 22, 1999, Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, 10-year-old Philip and six-year-old Timothy, were burnt alive by a Hindu mob in their vehicle in Keonjhar district.

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